Seasoned authors and aspiring writers alike gathered in Bear Valley Springs Sunday afternoon to exchange ideas and gather sound advice on how to get their work published.
Bear Valley Springs Cultural Arts Association hosted the Pop-Up Book Faire at the Oak Tree Country Club featuring local, published authors, including a panel of six who spoke in detail about their experiences on everything from getting started to promoting their finished pieces.
Emcee Andi Hicks, who wrote her first short story at the age of 7 about twin sisters living on the Western frontier, introduced the panelists as a consortium intended to help other writers.
"All of us have things we know, and all of us have things we don't know and we are stuck or have hit a wall," Hicks said before introducing the first panelist, Gary Adams.
Adams has published five children's books as well as one hardcover book, "Conversations With Coach Wooden, which is about "his long friendship with the 'Greatest Coach of the 20th Century.'"
"I take the Writer's Digest; that's a magazine that I recommend to everybody," Adams said.
Adams said that, according to the magazine, there has been a 156 percent increase in the number of self-published books since 2012, and more than 1 million books have been self-published in America.
Said Hicks, "It's a trend that's going on."
Another local author of children's books is Gabriele de Ginant, whose work includes "Rosabella," which was published internationally and later turned into a classical ballet, and more recently, "Snow Flower," which was handled by a hybrid publisher. Hybrid publishers pay for all the publicity; however, the author pays for the printing.
"Hybrid publishing is something that I recommend if you have a lot of demonstrations, like my books have," said de Ginant. "There are a lot of hybrid publishers online, so you have to be careful. Some of them can do your book for a few hundred dollars, and some of them for several thousands … but they do a really good job on marketing."
First-time author Deborah Hand-Cutler, also a Book Faire panelist, talked about how she went about self-publishing her historical novel, "The Snake in the Garden," which was initially inspired by the real-life stories of Brenda Sutton Turner, an African-American singer/songwriter who grew up in Texarkana, Ark., in the time of Jim Crow.
"Unless you have a publisher who does everything for you, then what's the point?" said Hand-Cutler.
Hand-Cutler said she decided to go the route of Create a Space, a self-publishing service on Amazon, which is now known as Kindle Direct Publishing. With KDP, you can publish your books in digital and print for free and sell on Amazon to millions of readers while earning up to 70 percent royalty on Kindle eBook and 60 percent on paperback sales.
Hand-Cutler said she was given a list of two firms that would format her book for her, one of which she used, which is located in India.
Said Hand-Cutler, "When I got the final bill, I was just so floored because it was so cheap."
Panelist Dr. Craig Luther has published five books and recently completed two more. His works deal with war history, and in particular, World War II.
Luther said he has never been a fan of Facebook; however, he recently learned how valuable social media can be in marketing a published book. By setting up several strategic Facebook pages where he posted information about his works, he saw his rankings soar.
"You have to work at it," Luther said. "There is so much competition out there, that the minute you stop, people lose interest. That's what an incredible platform Facebook can be, but you got to make a commitment to it."
Panelist Neill D. Hicks is a screenwriter for films produced in Europe, Asia and the Middle East as well as Hollywood. With a background in documentary as well as fiction film, Hicks has created programs for A&E, PBS and the History Channel.
"It takes a long time to learn how to write … it's a skill," Hicks said. "It requires a lot of self-examination."
Hicks said his first peeve, however, would be that aspiring authors need to learn English.
Said Hicks, "Learn the words, the punctuation, the rules. If you can find reasons for breaking those rules, OK. But, by and large, you have to stick to the rules, because that makes it easier to read."
Finally, panelist and special guest Alex Zonn spoke about publishing audio books, of which he has completed 36 narrations to date.
Zonn said the two most important things an aspiring writer has to remember is perseverance in their writing habits and in their reading of other quality material.
"Don't write to show off with big words," Zonn said. "Save the big words for that perfect moment when they will have an impact. Write to facilitate the understanding of the reader."